Long lines underscore multiple barriers to early voting

Long lines underscore multiple barriers to early voting
Hundreds of people wait in line for early voting on Monday, October 12 in Marietta, Georgia. Source: AP
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Daily US Times: Early voting has started in more than 20 states ahead of the November 3 election and already, the turnout has far surpassed past contests. Some experts projected record-breaking participation this year.

The United States Election Project said, as of Saturday, more than 25 million ballots have been cast through in-person early ballots and mail-in voting, which corresponds to more than 18 percent of all the votes counted in the 2016 presidential race.

But that early voting engagement, in part fuelled by the coronavirus pandemic, has also led to new challenges, as hours-long waits and long lines were reported at polling sites in North Carolina, Tennessee, Louisiana, Georgia, Texas and Ohio, among other states.

The time-consuming process has been attributed to enthusiasm in a charged political climate, eagerness to avoid the polls on election day because of glitches with the voting infrastructure and of course, the novel coronavirus.

But according to voting rights advocates, it is also evidence of barriers that many US voters face those barriers, which can make casting a ballot a day-long affair, often disproportionately affect minority communities.

Critics also said that some voting systems, which are overseen by and differ between each respective state, even in national elections, are inherently designed to help one party over the other.

In a tweet on October 15, the National Election Defence Coalition, a group of election-monitoring organisations, said: “The long lines are happening not by accident but design. Voters must stand up to defend our system of government.”

Polls opened on Monday in Georgia, where some voters waited more than eight hours to cast their votes, according to local media.

The Associated Press news agency reported that the first day of voting in the state saw 128,000 residents go to the polls, smashing 2016’s first-day turnout of 91,000.

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